Mary Mary

I have been called contrary but never Mary and in true rhyming fashion, let me show and tell you how my garden grows. Wild in parts, lots of soft fruit for tarts and a fair few failures along the way too.

In a March blog I mentioned the 'planting panic' that I was feeling at the time with the arrival of a large box of Tamar Organic seeds and tubers. Add to this the lengthening days, the disheveled state of the beds in the veg garden and all the demands on our time, it was difficult to ever imagine being able to full together a box of veg like the one below. Although it has taken until mid July to get into a steady flow of supply we are at last able to provide almost all our fruit and vegetables from the garden.

One of our sample veg boxes freshly harvested

The veg garden in February 2019

Not much growing here in January 2019

A bit of order established in May 2019

It has taken a while and a lot of regular work to get here. Some productive, some inefficient. Vegetables such as onions and leeks have required endless attention to keep on top of the weeds. Parsnips take so long to germinate that weeds appear first and I even had to look up a book to see what a parsnip seedling looked like so I wasn't pulling them too. Courgettes were slow to get going but are now producing as fast as we can consume and sell. Strawberries have tasted great but have been slowish and small and almost half have been lost to slugs in spite of straw underneath. I think I'll be raising and moving our strawberries into a polytunnel next year. Beans were a disaster to start with and from being strong seedlings they almost all withered and died after the first week in the ground. Did the manure need more rotting, was there a nitrogen deficiency (testing suggested so) or was it a seed quality issue from last year's hot summer (as a veg producer suggested)? Who knows but they are at last in full swing. I'm certain now that we will be having beans for almost ever dinner in August and be completely sick of the sight of them by September. Better that way than starving!

As for the carrots, I always had a view that it wasn't worth growing them as they are so cheap to buy in the shops. I thought this even more when I was having the same weed problems as with the parsnips - slow germination alongside faster growing weeds. I persevered however and the carrots started to grow and strengthen only to find that a young hare has taken up residence and is topping the carrots for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Run rabbit, run rabbit ........... In spite of all this my view has changed simply because of the joy of pulling a vegetable or fruit and eating it then and there. It's a rare thing to experience nowadays and is genuine luxury, in my book anyway. Plus if I have a child moaning beside me or I need to distract them from digging up the tomato plants what better way than to let them pull a carrot, nip off a few french beans or give them a few raspberries or cherry tomatoes. It invariably leads to, "more please".

Here's some photos of some of the fruit and vegetables with which we have been dabbling.

No sooner do the berries arrive in the house than little fingers start pinching

Grapes aplenty in one of the greenhouses

Globe artichokes - a firm favourite in our house

Apart from mayonnaise, oil, garlic and lemon this is 100% from the garden. What is it you may ask? I'm not sure but it was tasty.

It seemed frivolous giving over valuable time for flower planting but it's wonderful to have big blasts of colour in amongst all the greenery and to help the bees

Salad beds in the polytunnel

Weeding volunteers kindly helping out in exchange for an organic veg box

Our fig tree is throwing out fruit left, right and centre. While i missed this one there should be plenty to come by end August

Leeks and onions - endless weeding required to keep them clear

Ripe and ready redcurrants that the birds seem to have missed

This year is a bit of fun and has been a stab into the unknown. Some of the veg will be dropped. Celariac and celery for example. For others such as lettuce, spinach, chard and the like, we'll reduce volumes and try and flatten out the supply. And we'll significantly increase supply of potatoes, all brassicas and some of the root veg. I'll also thing about pest control a little more in spite of the assistance we get from the hedgehogs and the wee frogs ( like the chap below) that are popping out all over the place. Plus netting around carrots to keep the rabbits away, netting for the gooseberries to stop the birds and weed control fabric around some plants.

The local pest controller who patrols the pepper and aubergine section of the greenhouse

While spending hours working away in the garden there is lots of wildlife that breezes past or you stumble upon. There has been much talk of the Painted Lady butterflies' once-in-ten year mass migration from Africa through the UK to the Arctic with multiple generations being born to enable the huge journey. We were lucky enough to see and picture this one on Saturday. Although about 30 minutes later one of the hens flicked her head and had a butterfly half in her mouth and it looked like a Painted Lady. It's a dog-eat-dog world out there!

A Painted Lady butterfly that i photographed in the garden at the weekend

During the of last week we headed to the pond for a spot of paddling and floating around in a bath tub

After a cool May and June it's great to have decent warm weather interspersed with downpours. The plants love it. We've also been enjoying the warm weather and took a trip down to pond for a bit of paddling and punting on one of the hot days last week to try and cool off a little. After all, only work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. On that note work calls, veggies need pulling for today's menus and we have pigs arriving on Monday to prepare for. Looks like a relaxing week ahead!

Until next time.


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